Trump’s Conviction Exposes Republican Hypocrisy

On May 31, former President Donald Trump was convicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records. Now a convicted felon with a terrifying plan for a second term, Trump should be disqualified from running for president.
On May 31, former President Donald Trump was convicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records. Now a convicted felon with a terrifying plan for a second term, Trump should be disqualified from running for president.
Alessandra Ashford

The nation was shocked on May 31 when in a Manhattan courtroom, a jury of 12 New Yorkers came to a verdict, reading out one word 34 times: Guilty. After five weeks of lawyers, witnesses, and testimony that read like it was straight from the tabloids, former President Donald Trump became the first ever American president to be convicted of a crime. Trump was found guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business record to cover up an affair between adult film star, Stormy Daniels, and him. 

The reaction from the country was predictable: conservatives raged while liberals celebrated. But despite the hopes from the latter, Donald Trump can still run for, and even become the next president of the United States. While Trump is finally facing some much needed accountability, he should not be allowed to hold public office again.

The same man who supported felons being unable to vote can somehow hold public office, while his fellow convicted felons do not even have political power or voice in that decision.

 

Trump, who made being “tough on crime” and maintaining “law and order” a cornerstone of his brand, is now a convicted criminal. Not only have Trump’s backers, voters, and Trump himself ignored this case of blatant cognitive dissonance, but Trump himself has personally supported laws that restrict convicted felons from voting. The same man who supported felons being unable to vote can somehow hold public office, while his fellow convicted felons do not even have political power or voice in that decision.

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Trump is also a staunch advocate of zero tolerance policies against criminals. He is pro-death penalty, cash bail, and has long been critical of criminal justice reform. In the 80s, he notoriously took out full page newspaper ads in multiple New York newspapers, where he alluded to the necessity for the death penalty to be given to the Central Park Five, now known as the Exonerated Five, who were falsely convicted of beating and raping a jogger.  But in the decades between his notoriety as one of Manhattan most prominent real estate developers and his candidacy, his archaic and racist views of the criminal justice system didn’t change at all.

In reality, Trump’s “tough on crime” policies were not tough on crime at all, but tough on the marginalized.

As a presidential candidate, Trump argued that America needed to be tougher on crime, turning that promise into policy after his election in 2016. His administration urged prosecutors to give out the lengthiest sentences possible, including long prison sentences for low-level offenses and the death penalty for drug crimes. Further, Trump’s administration restarted federal executions in the middle of a pandemic. He has openly condoned police brutality, and has given wishy-washy condemnations when it turns deadly, while at the same time continuing to ignore efforts of police reform. 

In reality, Trump’s “tough on crime” policies were not tough on crime at all, but tough on the marginalized. He has always been lenient on white, wealthy criminals. 

During his presidency, Trump filled his cabinet with crusaders against criminal justice reform. During his presidency, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, undid many Obama-era criminal justice reforms. While the Obama Administration executed a historic number of investigations into police abuses, Sessions stopped these investigations, saying that he’d rather prosecute criminals instead of police. Tough-on-crime policies have little effect in reducing crime — instead they only serve to further marginalize minority groups that already experience disenfranchisement in the criminal justice system.

The truth is clear: Trump is a hypocrite. Let us not forget Trump’s notorious chant of “lock her up,” directed at Hillary Clinton, when her alleged misconduct was still under investigation by the FBI in 2015. When he was scrutinizing an enemy, Trump was proud of American’s legal system, openly talking about how Clinton was corrupt and deserved to be put in jail, and that more importantly that he was going to be the one to see it through. Even without political maligning, the former president spent so much time fear-mongering about criminals, from when he was the sleazy head of a real estate empire in the 80s, to being the 45th president of the United States. In every decade in the public eye, he employed racist dog-whistles no different from those that inspired the White Flight of the 60s without fail. But now that he is a convicted criminal, the same system that he refuses to acknowledge fails its citizens in the past, is now the pinnacle of a flawed America. When the justice system convicts a Black or Brown person, the prosecution is correct, no matter the context. When Trump is convicted, he calls it a “rigged trial.”

It now seems clear to Republicans that criminals deserve to vote, but only the ones that can help them get reelected.

Continuing the hypocrisy, Florida governor Ron DeSantis said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he will make sure that Trump can vote in Florida, his state of residence, despite his conviction. DeSantis pledged that he would personally see that Florida’s state clemency board grants Trump the right to vote, even while Florida has made multiple efforts to make voting harder for felons. DeSantis himself is on the same page with Trump on criminal justice policies, but willing to make an exception for a man who does not deserve it. It now seems clear to Republicans that criminals deserve to vote, but only the ones that can help them get reelected.

The hypocrisy from Republicans is an openhanded slap in the face to every person serving a 30-year prison sentence for possessing low level amounts of marajuana. It’s a slap in the face to every person sitting wrongfully convicted because they couldn’t afford a lawyer or fell victim to police abuses. But let’s be clear, Trump does deserve the right to vote, like every other citizen in this country. But it’s abhorrent that Trump can vote while thousands of convicts cannot.

It is hypocritical and unfair that Trump, a wealthy white man with influence and power, can skirt past many problems that many face in the criminal justice system. His bail was lowered from $454 million to $175 million after an appeal deadline to pay it was extended, because he couldn’t come up with that amount in cash. Nevermind the others in that boat, especially racial minorities, who are forced to languish in jail until their court dates. He was able to afford a team of lawyers, when many can’t even dream of hiring one halfway decent lawyer, having to rely on a notoriously underfunded public defender system.

In conclusion, the truth is clear. Trump assumed he was untouchable. He was elected president after saying blatantly racist things, bullying anyone who disagreed with him, and was even caught on tape bragging about his ability to get away with sexually assaulting women. He somehow survived being impeached twice in just four years. He manufactured an idea in his head and among his supporters that any attempt to address any wrongdoing by him is persecution. Trump should not be able to hold public office, and not only because he was a horrible president who has even worse plans for a possible future term, but because he gets to get by a system that ruins lives every day. He gets to avoid the consequences of policy he supports, and that should not be the case. 

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About the Contributor
Alessandra Ashford
Alessandra Ashford, Opinions Editor
Class of 2025 When I’m not writing or editing you can find me reading, drawing, painting, listening to music, and ranting. I always love to tell stories and start conversations. I’m so excited to be on Student Press!

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